Panthers-Iowa about Giving Up on Ground

By Werner, Sam | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), September 20, 2014 | Go to article overview

Panthers-Iowa about Giving Up on Ground


Werner, Sam, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


When Pitt quarterback Chad Voytik talked about what to expect from the Panthers today against Iowa, he made two fists and bumped them against each other.

That visual told just about all there is to say about this matchup.

Pitt (3-0) will try to keep its perfect record intact today against Big Ten Conference foe Iowa (2-1) in a game that will go a long way in determining if the Panthers' hot start is legitimate.

"I think it's a huge game," Voytik said. "It's probably our most challenging opponent thus far.

"I think we're ready to keep building on this thing. When you're faced with a challenge like this at such a crucial moment, to get to 4-0, 5-0, that's when you start taking strides."

The defining feature of the game likely will be the strength-on- strength matchup between Pitt's bruising rushing game and Iowa's stout run defense. The Panthers rank fourth in Division I-A with 344.3 yards per game on the ground; Iowa has the seventh-best run defense, allowing 65.7 yards per game.

Pitt running back James Conner is second in Division I-A with 544 rushing yards this season. Despite two early fumbles a week ago against Florida International, Conner has made his big games seem relatively easy so far. He knows that likely won't be the case against the Hawkeyes.

"I think it'll be our first test," Conner said. "They look real physical on film. Everybody talks about their front four linemen and so [I'm excited] to get a chance to show the nation what we can do in the run game."

For coach Paul Chryst, that physical Iowa front seven -- led this year by defensive tackle Carl Davis -- is nothing new. He coached against the Hawkeyes seven times in his tenure as an assistant at Wisconsin.

"Watching them this year, it's a little different from the last time we played them, certainly," Chryst said. "But there are some core things that if you went back 10 years, it'd be some of the same things. …

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